AN intrepid team of firefighters is gearing up to pedal 1,600 miles from Oldham to Gibraltar to raise cash for four charities, backed by the legendary cycling star Chris Boardman.

The 16-strong group Blazing Saddles will set off from Oldham Fire Station on July 14 on a journey expected to take 14 days and on route will visit the  French port of Le Havre.

They will be stopping off to pay their respects to the Oldham Pals soldiers in the run up to the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, as well as the centenary of The Fire Brigades Union.

The soldiers were laid to rest in the French port during the conflict.

The effort has been branded The 100 Year Ride, taking Blazing Saddles through England, France and Spain, averaging 115 miles a day and one gut wrenching 145-mile day.

That will be when the cyclists will be tested to the limit climbing a heart-stopping total of 100, 000 feet, crossing the Pyrenees and riding through the scorching hinterlands of Spain in the height of summer.

As well as paying homage at Le Havre, there will be a brief pause in Madrid as the team are welcomed with a reception at the British Embassy, the Ambassador will then cycle a short way with them as they depart the next morning.

Self-funded and riding for The Fire Fighters Charity, MIND, Cyclists Fighting Cancer and SANDS they hope to raise as much money as possible to add to the £60,000 previous challenges have totalled. Running up to their departure Blazing Saddles want to hear from anybody who has relatives or friends from the Oldham Pals buried in Le Havre so they can ensure they pause at their grave.

Blazing Saddles can be contacted by emailing Amanda Read at

Meanwhile, an open day is taking place at Oldham Fire Station on May 12 where cycling legend Chris Boardman, the mayor of Oldham, Cllr Shadab Qumer and DJ and Inspiral Carpets member Clint Boon are all expected to attend. Donations can be made at

The Blazing Saddles team includes (from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service), Phil Courtnell, aged 55, Chris Dean, 48, Mark Canning, 49, Colin Davies 48 (retired), Tony Cuchera, 44, Ian Hall, 47, Chris Hanson, 44, Julian Hodges, 46, Greg Punchon, 42. Support riders (non GMFRS) are Mark Smith, 48, Chris Derbyshire, 47, Shaun Jagger, 54, Julian Hodges 46. In the support vehicle will be Lee Cropper, 45, GMFRS, Mike Smith, 29, Phil Garbet, 36, Nick Berry, 42.